Craig introduces a dry fly that’s perfect as part of a team at mayfly time.
In the first week of December 2019, the World Fly Fishing Championships were held in Tasmania. The timing was meant to coincide with the first of the mayfly hatches in the central highlands. Unfortunately, Tassie’s highland weather proved to be as fickle as ever, with gale force winds battering the competitors. Rather than fishing delicate dry flies to rising fish, competitors were forced to use sinking lines and pull marabou. Whilst the competitors were philosophical about the weather, they could not help but be disappointed to miss out on the excellent top-water angling Tassie is famous for.
One such angler was Bernie Maher, the manager of the English team. It was great to catch up with Bernie, whose friendship I had enjoyed through previous international competitions. Fortunately, after the competition concluded, Bernie was to stay around for another week at my shack in Miena and we were able to get in some fishing together.
Two days after the closing of the WFFC, we found ourselves on Penstock Lagoon. During the competition, the wind had been howling and Penstock had turned the colour of strong coffee. By contrast, on this day the conditions were perfect: overcast and mild with a light westerly wind. The water had cleared, and of course now the competitors were gone, duns were hatching all over the lake.
I offered Bernie some flies suited to fishing the hatch. He fished a three fly cast, using two of my dries, and one of his own I hadn’t seen before. Bernie’s fly looked like a pimped-up Carrot fly and it certainly stood out from the drab Para Dun and Possum Emerger I had provided. Over the course of the day we enjoyed excellent fishing, and it was interesting to see a disproportionate number of Bernie’s trout coming to his flamboyant fly.
Bernie operates a private fishery in the midlands of England and is exposed to many different fly patterns. He informed me that his fly was one of his favourites, called the Midas. It was invented by a well-known north-east Anglia fisher, Davy Hodgson. Davy perfected the Midas on some of England’s most famous stillwaters, including Rutland and Grafham. Sadly, Davy died prematurely, although at least he was on the water fishing at the time – not a bad way to go. I wonder if he was fishing a Midas at the time?
Bernie fishes the Midas in the same way we would fish a regular Carrot; using its colour and flash to catch the fish’s attention, and making the fly stand out from the crowd during a large hatch. Bernie also moves the fly at times to further attract the trout.
After Bernie headed home, I continued to use the Midas through the rest of the mayfly season. It proved to be a highly effective, robust, and versatile fly. Moreover, it has worked for me during daytime beetle falls, evening midge hatches and as a general searching dry. It is particularly well suited to fishing as part of a team due to its fish-pulling attributes of colour, flash, and general bugginess.
Hook – Size 12 dry fly
Thread – Orange 8/0
Body – Red seal’s fur
Legs – Pheasant tail
Hackle – Red/brown cock
Head – Ice dubbing (gold) or Lite Brite
- Dub in a plump body of seal’s fur. (I have seen variants using colours other than red such as black, fiery brown and claret.)
- Pull 4 fibres from the pheasant tail and tie 2 to either side of the fly, facing the butts to the rear of the fly. The leg length should be the same length as the body of the fly.
- Next, tie in the cock hackle, with the natural camber of the feather facing to the rear of the fly.
- Then dub on a gold head, use the dubbing to force the hackle to lay back at an angle of approximately 45 degrees.
- Finally, use some Velcro to scruff out the seals fur body. This will further enhance the bugginess of the fly.
I rub some floatant into the Midas prior to fishing. If it becomes sodden (hopefully after catching a fish!), wash the fly in the water to remove any slime, squeeze in a Fly Kerchief to remove excess water, and give a shake in dry fly shake. Treated this way, it should float all day.